More than 500,000 people are expected to celebrate Canada Day (Fête du Canada) in Ottawa’s downtown riverfront neighborhoods on Saturday, July 1. Heavily armed police and surveillance cameras will be deployed throughout the city as part of a series of what officials have described as unprecedented heightened security measures for the event. Barricades of concrete blocks and dump trucks will also be set up around the primary celebration area in Parliament Hill and roads will be closed in the area for extended periods of time beginning as early as June 27 and ending as late as July 4. Severe transportation disruptions are likely to impact the city during that time.
While Ottawa will host the country’s largest Canada Day events, similar festivities are also taking place in other cities across the country. In Montreal, festivities will take place from 11:00 to 20:30 (local time) in the area of Old Port of Montreal (Vieux-Port de Montréal). Local media sources have reported an anti-capitalist group plans to disrupt the celebrations with a demonstration beginning at 11:00 at Place d'Armes. In Québec City, Canada Day events will be held in two locations (Terrasse Dufferin and Plaines d'Abraham) beginning at 09:00 and ending with fireworks that will begin at 23:00. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) will host many Canada Day celebrations, with the most prominent event taking place in Nathan Philips Square beginning at 17:00 every day from June 30 until July 3. Significant road closures throughout GTA are anticipated. And in Vancouver, the largest Canada Day event will take place at Canada Place on July 1-2.
Although no specific or credible threat against Canada Day celebrations has been made public, media sources reported that an internal government memo warned that the Islamic State (IS) had told Muslims to avoid markets and public gatherings in Canada, threatening attacks using explosives and vehicles. Heightened security measures should be anticipated in the area of large Canada Day celebrations throughout the country.
Canada Day is the national holiday of Canada, previously called Dominion Day (Le Jour de la Confédération). In 2017, the country is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the enactment of the Constitution Act of 1867.
The Canadian government has classified the risk of terrorism in the country as medium since October 2014, meaning an attack could occur but is not likely or imminent. While the risk of terrorism remains relatively low, several incidents have occurred in recent years, including two deadly attacks in October 2014: an attack against soldiers in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec (one death); and a shooting in and around the parliament building in Ottawa (one death). More recently, a lone gunman opened fire at a Québec City mosque, killing at least six and wounding 19 in January 2017.
Individuals present in Ottawa and other cities across Canada are advised to report any suspicious activity or objects to the relevant authorities, particularly in crowded areas. Anticipate heightened security measures and severe transportation disruptions in the area of Canada Day celebrations. Check official websites for more information on event schedules and associated road closures.